Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Maciel

Father Marcial Maciel Degollado
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I was away while the news broke on this man. Returning, I noted the priests I read are very understanding of Fr. Maciel's weaknesses and chose not to cast any stones. That is as it should be. Pope Benedict sent him off in silence to do penance and Fr. Maciel did so humbly. As Catholics, we all sin; we confess, receive absolution and a penance - and we try to sin no more.
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Anyway. A year or two ago I wrote about the rumors and the cloak and dagger atmosphere surrounding the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi. I actually knew men and women associated with the organizations - so I wasn't just speculating about these things. Anyway - my writings are lost, but there is plenty of docu-drama coverage elsewhere online if anyone is interested.
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Secrets and denial.
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There is really so much to say about all that has been revealed. For starters, I think we can now understand a little better the closeted secrecy of the Legion, their strict discipline, radical commitment to the founder, and silence concerning the religious life they led, as well as the process of government. On some level this seems typical of a dysfunctional family, wherein someone, very often the dad, had been leading a double life.
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Codependent behaviours.
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Therefore it seems likely that it was important for the founder and perhaps unwittingly, the superiors of the Legion to keep outsiders at bay in order to protect the secret. Controlled effort to appear normal, while projecting a sense of moral and doctrinal superiority - even elitism, while maintaining a traditional religious decorum, horarium, and dress, worked to project a certain mystique of perfection and stability. Many were convinced, especially new recruits, that the rumors about the founder had to be false: Indeed, Fr. Maciel was very much admired by John Paul II.
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Not a few people, among them priests and religious, believe the Legion should distance itself from its founder. One priest wrote, "For P.R. purposes, the L.C. needs to distance itself from its founder, that is, quickly and irrevocably disconnect its spirituality from the man who founded it." - Source. With all due respect to Fr. Philip, I must disagree. Making such a disconnect would only perpetuate the culture of lies and cover up that became the foundation of the order's discipline. It would be very unhealthy to do that, albeit typical of flawed Catholic practice.
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Their first purification ought to be to remedy the effects of the hero worship they once had for Fr. Marciel. How many times do we all find ourselves woefully disappointed in those people we admire and maybe even idolize? We make our heroes into idols, own them as role models and examples - failing to understand that only Christ and His Mother and the saints are such. Men are men. Michael Phelps smokes weed. Governor Blagojevitch sells senate seats. Bill Clinton liked cigars. Some priests get married or sleep with men. Ted Haggard used male prostitutes but stayed married. (Hoochimama - Just imagine the dysfunction that family has to work through.)
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"Take no man for your example, the devil will show you his faults." - John of the Cross

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Thus, even the strongest men may fall - "The just man is scarcely saved." As John Paul I said, "God loves humility so much, sometimes he permits a man to fall even into grave sin, in order that, after repenting, he becomes even more humble." That works in the order of nature and grace. (My quote is from memory.)
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Fr. Maciel humbly went into exile to do penance, and he died, hopefully in the state of grace. But I'm convinced it would be wrong for his sons to disown their father. We live in times of flagrant sin, therefore we need to know and understand and accept that some men have battled apocalyptic-sized demons and have often fallen... some even lost. Yet others were able to rise, clinging to their faith and the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church, and they continued on, struggling and suffering to the end. Hiding Fr. Maciel would only be another denial of the truth - and perhaps a denial of the mercy of God.
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What to do about the victims is another story.

1 comment:

  1. David9:23 AM

    AMEN to Christ above all, and on the purely human level his Mother and ours, are the only models worth our total admiration and dedication.

    The cult of the founder in the Legion reminds me veyr much of the cult of the founder among Opus Dei, ony in this case they did have a saint. Even still...saints are original-sin affected humans...so Christ and his Immaculate Mother alone are the only ones we need to keep our eyes on.

    ReplyDelete


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